Rovers coach: We are back in the mix for top-four

Rovers coach Andy Hay: "It is one of those games  you can't afford to expect to just turn up and win."
Rovers coach Andy Hay: "It is one of those games you can't afford to expect to just turn up and win."
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Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay is looking for another clinical display in tomorrow night’s (Friday) Kingstone Press Championship clash against Doncaster at Big Fellas Stadium (7.30pm).

Hay was delighted with his side’s performance in last weekend’s 52-0 win at Workington Town when they bounced back from the previous week’s home defeat against Halifax.

Rovers will climb back into the top four - temporarily at least - if they win tomorrow but Hay will not take anything for granted against bottom club Doncaster who have lost all their 17 league games this season.

“It’s one of those games you can’t afford to expect to just turn up and win,” he said.

“As a group and as a team I think we are probably through that now.

“We have targeted the last seven games we’ve got left and we know what we need to do to get in the top-four and it’s still the main goal. We still feel as a group we can achieve that.

“We’ll prepare as we would to face a top side. Doncaster are one game away from a win and we don’t want to be the team they get that against.

“Doncaster don’t look like they’ve given up - they look like they are fighting. They had a real crack at London last week and I think we’ve got to be on our game and concentrate on ourselves and our defence.

“We had a great performance away last week and we’ve got to bring that back to Featherstone.

“It’s a Friday night game which is something a bit different and we hope to get plenty of fans here and get a great atmosphere. We need the supporters behind us and showing the same belief the team have got.

“We need to win on Friday and get the points. We know it’s going to be a tough encounter because every game is and it’s up to us to make sure we do our job properly.

“We’ve put ourselves back in the mix and we’ve a really good opportunity to kick on now.

“It’s going to be tight for the top-four and points difference could mean a lot at the end of the year. We have to score points but we’ve got to stop other teams scoring as well which is what we worked on and we need to look at that again this week.”

Featherstone’s 19-man squad for tomorrow night’s game is:

Alex Foster, Andy Bostock, Andy Ellis, Ben Blackmore, Gareth Moore, Ian Hardman, Jack Bussey, Jamie Cording, Jordan Baldwinson, Jy Hitchcox, Matt James, Paul Sykes, Remy Marginet, Reni Maitua, Ryan Verlinden, Thomas Minns, Tim Spears, Will Milner, Will Sharp

New signing Paul Cooke, the former Doncaster player-coach, will not make his Featherstone debut against his old club.

Prop Garreth Carvell missed the game at Workington because wife Vicki gave birth to a baby daughter last week but he has now resumed traininng.

Hay said: “We’ve probably got a similar squad to pick from that we had for the Workington game.

“We’ve got a decent squad to pick from and players who didn’t play last week will be wanting to fight their way back into the team.

“Garreth Carvell is back in training.

“We know what Paul Cooke can do but he needs to be ready to play for us. He won’t play on Friday but I’m hoping he’ll play the following week. He’s looking in not bad shape and we did a defensive session last week and he looked good in that.”

Nathan Chappell and Mason Tonks are sidelined with knee injuries but Luke Cooper is set to resume training after sustaining an ankle injury in the game against Halifax.

Hay switched Ian Hardman to full-back and Paul Sykes to centre and moved Jy Hitchcox to the wing in last Sunday’s match against Workington at Derwent Park.

“Ian Hardman had a great game at full-back. I thinkhe was trying to prove a point about being a full-back and wanting to play there. He had a really solid game for us in attack and defence,” added Hay.

“Paul Sykes had another good game back at centre and Gareth Moore’s kicking game helped us out and made the game a lot easier for us.

“We felt Jy Hitchcox needed a bit of a change so we put him on the wing. Ben Blackmore missed out and he’s dying to get back in the side. We’ve got a got some hunger back again throughout the group.

“Ryan Verlinden missed out and we brought Jack Bussey back in and he had a good stint for us,

“The front rowers who started Matty James and Jordan Baldwinson were good and then Bussey and Andy Bostock off the bench were also good. I also thought Tim Spears had one of his better games.”

Hay was pleased with a big improvement in defence last Sunday.

“We’ve still got things we can work on and things we can improve but it was a real positive step in the right direction,” he said.

“We’d talked about our defence and we’d worked hard on it on during the week and it paid off. We’d talked about the attitude of the players in defence as well because we’ve let in too many points in the last month and over the season. We can’t just think we can attack our way out of trouble.

“We defended very strongly at Workington and we were really smart with our kicking game. We showed energy and enthusiasm on our kick chase.

“We started winning the arm wrestle and after about 15 minutes we start breaking them up the middle and we scored some really good tries. It was a clinical performance and it carried on in the second-half.

“Across the board there weren’t many players who didn’t have a good game.”

Meanwhile, Featherstone’s under16 academy team are holding their annual awards dinner in the clubhouse on Friday, June 26.

Former Great Britain, St Helens, Wigan and Leeds scrum-half Bobbie Goulding will be the special guest. He will talk about the highs and lows of his extensive carrer.

Rovers Academy have played eight matches in 2015 and won five of them against Hull KR, Hull FC, Midlands Regional Academy, North East Regional Academy and London Broncos.

Rovers team boss Hay said: “This awards dinner should be a great event and after a successful season the lads deserve a night of celebration.

“They’ve worked hard on cold nights throughout the winter to be a highly competitive side and credit must go to Shaun Jewitt and his coaching staff. They’ve recorded some eye catching wins this year and hopefully the awards dinner will be well supported by our fans.”

Tickets for the awards dinner cost £20 or £180 for a table of 10 and can be obtained by contacting Shaun Jewitt on 07792 869742 or by emailing jewsha5@aol.com

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are J Tobbell (A3031), M Dalby (I1808), M Graves (C3052), M Walker (Y3052), I Jolly (P3674). £5 consolation prizes: J Hobbs (V3490), M Taylor (V2880), J Bent (V3246).